Windows Phone UI and large fonts

There’s been of takes on the Lumia 900 this week, yet I’m fascinated most by Ars Technica’s Casey Johnston’s analysis on the shortcomings of the Metro UI:

[At times] the large fonts that characterize the OS take up too much valuable screen real estate.

The headers in the Outlook app, for instance, have a lot of breathing room. It makes the layout look nice, and choosing to display your contacts’ names in the largest font, twice the height of the rest, rather than the subject or snippets of content presumably makes you feel popular and keeps it people-centric. But I generally care just as much, if not more, about the subject and content preview than the sender, which are grayed out compared to the sender’s name.

In Mail on iOS, you can customize the font and the number of lines of the message preview, but Windows Phone provides no such options. Because of all the white space and large font, and the inability to fix that through settings, I can skim less of my e-mail at once, requiring more scrolling to go through it all. These information-sparse design cues extend to many of the third-party apps we tried, including Yelp and Twitter, where screen real estate often seems wasted by big fonts and white space. 

I’m generally critical of the opposite problem on the web: a lot of websites, especially those on the arts/fashion side of things tend to emphasize small, 10 or 11px font as a primary body font. Yet in the process of going big, you can go too far – it looks like Metro fell down that trap.